Saturday, May 28, 2011

What I learned and what the kids didn't

Okay, so at the beginning of this month I wrote about my soon to be first teaching experience and then I promised I would write an update, which of course I didn't, so now, at the end of the month, I am finally following through.
Here's how it all went down.
The first day was a disaster. I had one page of typed notes, a stack of newspapers and sweaty palms. I attempted to engage the class by asking them what they think a journalist's job is and why the newspaper is important, but that fell flat. I even tried to be relevant and made reference to iPads and Justin Bieber and avoided my urge to mention MTV, which I'm pretty sure, although I'm not positive, is no longer accepted as cool among the young folk. I think it's fair to say, that relating to kids is not my forte or strength.
When I handed out my assignment -- a fact sheet that provided everything the kids needed to know to write a story about a fire and included Fire Chief Justin Bieber -- I was heckled by one of the boys.
"Justin Bieber?" he said. "I take it you like him?"
"No," I responded. "I thought you guys might like him."
And without skipping a beat, the little Newfie, who I have to admit was my favourite student, said, "You guys?"
So that was how my first day of teaching ended. I'll admit the second day was better, but that was just because I forced the kids to do work, so I wouldn't have to talk as much. It was still unnerving though because I knew I was boring them. I knew if I were them I would be thinking, 'Who is this girl in bright blue tights and what the hell is she talking about?'
I think my teaching skills, or lack there of, came especially evident when I got their assignments back. It seems some of the kids didn't retain one of the most important messages from my lesson: 'Don't make things up or embellish the facts.'
To give you an example, one of the kids took my story, which was about a small apartment fire that stemmed from burning food, and made it into an epic fire.
If I recall correctly, the lead was something like, "Smoke! Fire! Flames! Screams weren't the only thing heard from the purple apartment building last night."
There was also a story with fabricated quotes. I take these failures as proof that I should neer be a teacher. That doesn't make me sad, though. I view it as reinforcement that I picked the right career.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Stage fright... kids, yuck!

I've done something silly. I've done something I know I'm going to regret. I've done something that could only cause flaming red cheeks and sweaty palms.
I've agreed to stand in front of a group of Grade 6 students tomorrow and the next day for an hour.
I guess I won't just be standing there. I'm actually going to be teaching them how to write a news story. But that might be worse because it means I have to talk to the little monsters.
I don't know how to relate to Grade 6 students. How old are they anyway? Like 11? 12?
I honestly don't even know. But what I do know is, I'm terrified.
There is going to be a room full of beady little eyes looking up at me -- or depending on if they stand up, looking me straight in the eye. My stomach is turning just thinking about it.
I haven't spoken in front of a group of people since my last week of journalism school more than a year ago and for that, I had to drink a couple of beers first, just to calm the nerves.
I considered that as an option, but somehow I don't think drinking at 9 a.m. tomorrow and Friday before talking to a room full of impressionable pre-teens is the best plan.
Thinking back on that experience, I know it's not the best plan. I think I actually opened that presentation saying, "So basically we're a big deal."
I was talking about myself and two classmates who had caused quite a stir in the online world with our final online journalism project.
At least in that instance I was talking to my peers, though. This time, I have to come up with some pop culture references that the kids will dig.
I was thinking, in the fake story that I write, I'll name the people involved Justin Bieber and Miley Cirus, but in all honesty, I'm not sure if that would age me. Are those two still relevant?
I'm starting to think this was a really bad decision. I don't think you should send a jaded 24-year-old journalist, who never wants kids and doesn't particularly like having anything to do with them, into a classroom. This is destined for failure. If nothing else, I think I'll end up swearing or saying something inappropriate and then I'll be booted into the hallway like a obnoxious child.
I hope they have a corner ready for my nose, or some chalk brushes in need of cleaning.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Taking on the wilderness

This is the story of how four Southern girls conquered Yellowknife’s rugged wilderness. It was a hung over Sunday. The previous night, one girl had been out watching men wearing tights hug each other in a ring – some people call it UFC – while the other three, had been at a concert until the early hours of the morning. To overcome the headaches, heavy eyes and overwhelming desire to go back to bed, the ladies started their adventure with Tim Horton’s coffee and an unnecessarily long drive to what appeared to be an undiscovered village in the middle of woods. After turning around, assuming they had uncovered the training grounds for Northern serial killers, the group found a more appropriate location to set up camp for an afternoon wiener roast. While making the trek from the highway up a ridge to their desired spot, the ladies sunk at least two inches into mud the consistency of dog poo. One girl, we’ll call her Nicole, damn near slipped. But thankfully her intense flailing abilities – which she mastered after many falls over the winter months – kept her on her feet and out of the mud. Treading carefully after the near miss, the women collected branches for a fire.
Once a sufficient pile had formed, Robyn – the momma bear of the group – went to town building a teepee out of sticks. To ignite the wood, she lit six months worth of receipts, which she brought with her in a grocery bag, and tucked them in the centre of the sticks. Robyn swears she was in Girl Guides, but her fire making abilities left a lot to be desired. Although there were flames, they were short lived because only the paper would catch. Her solution: throw some more receipts on. The result: blackened pieces of paper floating everywhere. At some point, after a ton of poking and prodding, she learned that it’s more about placement and less about paper and we actually ended up with a fire big enough to roast smokies.
To celebrate, there were high fives and happy dances to Fleetwood Mac. All in all, for a hung over spring Sunday, it was a great success.